NOV 17, 2020 9:50 AM PST

Validating Blood Pressure Functionality in a New Smartwatch

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

One of the most exciting advancements in our time is wearable technology. While most see it as a cool piece of tech on your wrist or in your ear, it also offers an opportunity for easy health monitoring.

Fitness trackers in the form of watches are so commonplace that every smartwatch has some sort of fitness tracking function. The truth is that many of these are merely able to track heart rate and motion (clearly geared towards fitness tracking). What if a watch could quickly and accurately measure something more health critical, though, like blood pressure?

That is what a team from Seoul National University College of Medicine thought. In conjunction with the company InBody, they sought to test whether or not a smartwatch could reliably predict blood pressure for hypertension patients. Blood pressure might sound like an easy reading to get from a device literally sitting at your wrist, but it is not that simple. For an untrained person to get their blood pressure tested using such a small device, it takes sophisticated equipment alongside complex programs to get an accurate reading.

The device in question is a smartwatch currently in development at InBody. They would use the watch to get a type of ECG reading and translate that into blood pressure data. A true ECG requires several electrodes, as well as a properly trained professional. A less accurate but far easier workaround is to use two electrodes to measure the electrical current through two points in your body. In this case, the watch would act as the electrodes, with your wrist as one point of contact and two fingers of your other hand as the other (touching the metal of the watch).

In this study, the team wanted to validate the watch’s readings by comparing them to a standard inflatable cuff. They gathered systolic (when the heart contracts for the pump) and diastolic (when the heart relaxes) blood pressure readings in 35 elderly patients with and without hypertension using the smartwatch device and a standard inflatable cuff.

The watch did not prove a perfect match with the inflatable cuff (by scientific standards). Still, for an early device using a small wrist-worn device, they are well within reason with an accuracy usually within 10% of the inflatable cuff’s readings. Many other smartwatch makers have similar tech in their devices, but we rarely get an actual look at such devices’ validation efforts. With any luck, future devices will accurately and easily measure blood pressure, which could save time and energy for thousands suffering from blood-pressure related cardiovascular diseases.

The study concludes, “With advances in technology, more precise ABPM is likely to become available and this will yield clinical benefits such as reductions in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”

Sources: Nature Scientific Reports, Osmosis

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
You May Also Like
SEP 21, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Smart Wearable Patch Signals Trouble Following Traumatic Injury
SEP 21, 2020
Smart Wearable Patch Signals Trouble Following Traumatic Injury
An ambulance pulls up to the site of a car accident, sirens blazing. Paramedics assess the crash victims, looking for si ...
OCT 15, 2020
Cardiology
Measuring Pulse Transit Time as a Replacement for the Inflatable Cuff
OCT 15, 2020
Measuring Pulse Transit Time as a Replacement for the Inflatable Cuff
Many people deal with one disease or another every day of their life. Most require checking on things like blood sugar f ...
NOV 03, 2020
Cardiology
A New Peptide Could Help Repair and Protect the Heart During Ischemia Reperfusion Injury
NOV 03, 2020
A New Peptide Could Help Repair and Protect the Heart During Ischemia Reperfusion Injury
Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of death in the world. Although we have many treatments against ...
DEC 24, 2020
Cardiology
The Detrimental Health Impact of Ultra-Processed Foods
DEC 24, 2020
The Detrimental Health Impact of Ultra-Processed Foods
Prepared and highly processed foods have become very common, and they've been linked to negative health effects like obe ...
JAN 13, 2021
Cardiology
Short Bursts of Exercise Boost Markers of Good Health
JAN 13, 2021
Short Bursts of Exercise Boost Markers of Good Health
Exercise is good for our health, but it seems that certain kinds of exercise are more beneficial than others. Recent res ...
FEB 24, 2021
Cardiology
Drinking Lots of Unfiltered Coffee May Raise Heart Disease Risk
FEB 24, 2021
Drinking Lots of Unfiltered Coffee May Raise Heart Disease Risk
While there has been a lot of debate about whether or not coffee is good for you, a new study reported in Clinical Nutri ...
Loading Comments...